Virgin Mourning the Dead Christ

Cesare Targone1586 - 1587; frame & box about 1850

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

Clasping her hands to her chest, the grieving Virgin Mary looks upon the naked body of the dead Christ. His muscular figure reclines on a cloth stretched out upon a rocky ground. Swathed in heavy drapery, the Virgin, looking aged and worn, sways back as she tilts her head forward. Silhouetted against the dark, empty background, she gives visual expression to the emotional poignancy of the scene.

Sculptor Cesare Targone rejected the traditional narrative emphasis of images of the grieving Virgin. He eliminated almost all references to the Crucifixion or Christ's other mourners, focusing solely on the Virgin Mary's sorrow, which then becomes a model for the viewer's response to the dead Christ.

This devotional object, made of finely chased embossed gold on black obsidian, may have originally been set into a tabernacle door above an altar.

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  • Title: Virgin Mourning the Dead Christ
  • Creator: Cesare Targone
  • Date: 1586 - 1587; frame & box about 1850
  • Location Created: Venice, Veneto, Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: 28.9 x 26 cm (11 3/8 x 10 1/4 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Repoussé gold relief on obsidian background (in a black and gold wood frame of circa 1850)
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Signature: Signed below Christ's feet: "OPUS.CESARIS.TAR.VENETI"
  • Object Type: Sculpture
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 84.SE.121
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Center, Museum East Pavilion, Gallery E101
  • Department: Sculpture & Decorative Arts
  • Culture: Italian
  • Classification: Sculpture